Chamber of Commerce now partnering with Department of Labour


PHILIPSBURG – Tuesday, June 21, marked a significant milestone for the Department of Labour Affairs and Social Services, according to Department Head. Peggy-Ann Dros-Richardson.

The Department together with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will facilitate open lines of communication and cooperation between the two entities.

The Department of Labour Affairs and Social Services, through Section Labour Market, is tasked with the responsibility of matching suitable persons to vacancies available within the local job market. This is a daunting feat as often times the Department is faced with persons, who are not immediately ready to be placed in the job market for various reasons, such as low educational levels and lack of proper training and experience.

In addition to this challenge, the Department also lacks proper insight into the specific needs and expectations of the business community. The Department took note of a “missing link” between the supply and demand since its implementation of the SEI Employability through Training Project (SEI ETTP) initiative. This project (implemented from 2010-2014) aimed to get persons, who were unemployed re-assimilated into the world of work. However, there always seemed to be a mismatch between the employment demands of the business community, and the supply of job seekers.

Both the Department and COCI agree that this partnership is a step in the right direction towards working together to ensure that vacancies within the local job market are filled by persons who are adequately equipped.

President of COCI Peggy-Ann M. Brandon stated, “This collaboration and cooperation between our entities will allow us to redress socio-economic issues and simultaneously promote socio-economic development within the country. Understanding our labour market and our industries allows us to successfully pair them. This is where economic growth starts.”

Dros-Richardson agrees. “It represents a logical next step for this Department and by extension for the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour. Above all else, and above all the products and services offered by the Department, the most challenging and yet the most rewarding remains the placement of suitable persons in the local labor market. To this end, the MOU signed with the COCI has established the way forward for these two entities with a deliberate commitment by both to positively affect the labour market and its dynamics,” she commented.

“This will be done by the following deliverables as outlined in the MOU: a. The sharing of information between both entities; b. Collaboration with the National Job Fair; c. Training opportunities for unemployed persons with COCI and membership; d. Sharing of best practices between both entities; e. Organizing of a panel discussion on recruitment and hiring practices in private sector; f. Broader based initiatives on job creation and economic stimulus programs,” she explained.

The Department of Labour Affairs and Social Services has long been a proponent of collaboration and recognizes that positive lasting outcomes for the benefit of the people can only come through building a strong network. The Department thanked the Board of COCI, and also its President Brandon, for heralding and answering the call to be partners.